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The Conjuring of a Woman at the House of Robert Houdin (1896)

Escamotage d'une dame au théâtre Robert Houdin (original title)
| Short
A woman disappears on stage.

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An elegantly dressed man enters through a stage door onto a set with decorated back screen, a chair and small table. He brings a well-dressed women through the door, spreads a newspaper on the floor, and places the chair on it. She sits and fans herself; he covers her with a diaphanous cloth. She disappears; he tries to conjure her back with incomplete results. Can he go beyond the bare bones of a conjuring trick and succeed in the complete reconstitution of a the lady? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Trick photography in film is invented?
19 August 1999 | by (Lexington, KY) – See all my reviews

Things happened fast in the first few years of film - less than a couple of years before, the Lumiere brothers showed their first film - workers leaving their factory, one minute's worth - at the Societe d'Encouragement a l'Industrie Nationale. In late 1896, George Melies made this film, which quite simply shows a woman changing into a skeleton & back again. He used stop action of course, which every kid with a video camera has done by now, but at the time it was sensational.

Melies made his name & fame with such camera tricks in the cinema's early days - but whether he was the first to do the stop-frame thing is contested, as an Englishman named G.A. Smith was experimenting with the same things at the same time.

I still think, though, this particular trick is kinda neat.


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